The National Recycling Coalition 2020 Awards Recipients

October 27, 2020

8 Min Read

On Tuesday, October 20, 2020, The National Recycling Coalition (NRC) honored their recycling awards recipients at their Virtual 2020 Annual Members Meeting.  The awards were digitally presented to the winners through Zoom.    

The annual awards program is designed to honor and recognize outstanding individuals, programs, and organizations around the country, both for their achievements, and to serve as a model and a resource for learning for NRC members.  Award categories recognize outstanding programs in for-profit businesses, higher education, non-profit organizations, and community / governmental programs, as well as awards for outstanding emerging leader and lifetime achievement.  The NRC will be posting information on all winners on the NRC’s website.

NRC’s Awards Committee Chair Lisa Skumatz commented on the process expressing the views of fellow committee members, “We were pleased to receive so many nominees from all across the county, meriting winners from Alaska to Florida, and from the latest high tech to long-standing rural models!  The committee worked hard to sort from among the very strong submittals to find those shining examples”.  She noted that “The winners embodied best practices, especially during this unique year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the challenges that many organizations have been facing”.

2020 Awards and Recipients

  • Lifetime Achievement in Recycling

    • Chaz Miller

    • Richard Keller

  • Bill Heenan Emerging Leader

    • Jacob Appel

  • Outstanding Outreach Program

    • Fort Worth, TX- Master Composter Program

  • Outstanding Community / Government Program

    • City of Fayetteville, AR- Organics & Recycling Program

    • Boulder County Resource Conservation Division- Zero Waste Program

  • Outstanding Higher Education Winner

    • UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County- Waste Reduction Program

  • Outstanding Recycling Organization

    • Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO)- Food Waste Diversion Program

  • Outstanding Not-for-Profit Business Leadership

    • Alaskans for Litter Prevention and Recycling (ALPAR)

  • Outstanding Business Leadership-For Profit Company

    • AMP Robotics

    • Green Bay Packaging

Notable sponsors and contributors of these awards include: Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), Republic Services, Skumatz Economic Research (SERA), Waste Management, Steel Recycling Institute (SRI), Peter Adrian, Mick Barry, Gary Liss, Fran McPoland.

Details of the Awards and Winners

Outstanding Business Leadership-For Profit Company:  AMP Robotics

This award went to AMP robotics because they’ve been moving forward on new robotic and AI strategies in the very important area of MRF sorting performance.  AMP’s work in modernizing recycling infrastructure is helping to recover commodities reclaimed as raw materials for the global supply chain more and more economically.  Advancements include: sensors that are speedy and accurate at identifying and sorting specific recyclables from a mixed stream and that continuously learn so they can improve identification of different colors, textures, shapes, sizes, patterns, and even brand labels to identify materials and their recyclability – and this is then coupled with robots that rapidly sort, pick, and place materials FAST -- and other advancements are continually moving forward.  Designed to run 24/7, all of this happens at superhuman speed with extremely high accuracy.  Deployments across the US, Canada, Japan, and into Europe demonstrate these technologies are beyond pipe dreams and into the marketplace, which means big things for recycling.  Accepting by Rob Writz, presented by Lisa Skumatz, SERA Inc.

Outstanding Business Leadership-For Profit Company:  Green Bay Packaging

Green Bay Packaging’s containerboard mill in Green Bay is a fully integrated pulp and paper mill that produces linerboard and corrugated medium in the full spectrum of basis weights using 100% post-consumer recycled fiber. GBP partners with customers to optimize the collection of old corrugated containers (OCC) recovered in their recycling processes. That effort regenerates corrugated shipping containers with fewer resources while reducing their carbon footprint.  In their efforts to close the loop on OCC and mixed paper, the company promotes sustainability through resource conservation, pollution prevention, recycling, responsible forestry, energy conservation, waste reduction and also closing the loop in the water system. Truly aggressive efforts and a deserved win.  Accepted by Matt Szymanski, Vice President of Mill Operations, presented by Peter Adrian, SWALCO.

Outstanding Business Leadership Non-Profit:  Alaskans for Litter Prevention and Recycling (ALPAR)

For nearly 40 years, ALPAR has been innovating ways to provide recycling in Alaska.  Thanks to donated backhaul services for multiple recognizable partners that bring commodities into Alaska but might otherwise leave empty, ALPAR helps communities remove aluminum cans and plastic bottles from the waste stream.  ALPAR is the non-profit that coordinates these donated backhauls so the system can work!  In 2019 they assisted more than 70 rural communities by moving 14 tons of aluminum cans on to recycling centers in the Lower 48.  With the help of their business partners, ALPAR works to reduce litter, divert material from limited-life landfills, and provide revenue to many rural communities.  ALPAR is working hard to make sure that Alaska is not the last frontier when it comes to recycling.  Accepted by Anita Nelson, Executive Director, presented by Lisa Skumatz, SERA Inc.

Outstanding Recycling Organization:  Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio- Food Waste Diversion Program

The Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio formed the Central Ohio Food Waste Initiative in 2018 by partnering with over 150 local and state organizations to align activities for combating food waste throughout the region with the goal of cutting it in half by 2030. The initiative created an Action Plan that has strategically guided collaborative activities for establishing new programs, services, and policies.  Accepted by Kyle O’Keefe, presented by Dana D’Souza, SERA Inc.

Outstanding High Education: UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County- Waste Reduction Program

In order to reach Florida’s 75% diversion rate, UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County has developed a comprehensive approach to composting education.  For 2019-2020, IFAS has hosted in-person active learning workshops, online webinars, developed a new UF/IFAS online certificate course, and community food waste collection projects.  The program is now being adopted by multiple communities across Florida.  75% of workshop attendees say they are now actively composting at home.  Accepted by Randall Penn, presented by Lisa Skumatz, SERA Inc.

Outstanding Community or Government Program:  City of Fayetteville, AR- Organics & Recycling Program

The City of Fayetteville, AR, food waste diversion program has already diverted 308 tons of food waste away from the landfill in 2020 alone!  The recycling program includes a color-coded program to help with recycling sorts and the city just enacted a city-wide ban on expanded-polystyrene foam.  They are reducing GHG emissions, saving the City tipping fees, reducing litter, and helping Fayetteville get many steps closer to its 40% waste diversion goal.  Accepted by Brian Pugh, presented by Peter Adrian, SWALCO.   

Outstanding Community or Government Program:  Boulder County Resource Conservation Division- Zero Waste Program

The Boulder County Resource Conservation Division has shown how much focus and hard work and leadership can mean in moving a county forward to reach its goal of Zero Waste by 2025. Its mission is to provide convenient, cost-effective facilities and programs to help Boulder County reduce waste disposal, protect the environment, and conserve natural resources.  The division works on community participation, public education and well-designed, comprehensive programs to focus on achieving Zero Waste, and bring the message in every element they can – including outstanding efforts at their long-standing County fair!   They have a history of always looking for the next opportunity, and the next needed facility to reach ZW goals.  Accepted by Darla Arians, presented by Dana D’Souza, SERA Inc.

Outstanding Outreach Program:  City of Fort Worth, TX- Master Composter Program

The City of Fort Worth Master Composter Program is a volunteer certification program that promotes backyard composting and sustainability.  Course curriculum focuses on food waste, composting, and soil ecosystem health.  Each month, the Compost Outpost produces 35 CU YDs of high-quality compost with about 650 lbs of food waste. Master Composter volunteers also help move a minimum of 120lbs annually from local restaurants and grocers to be composted.  The program uses composting education as a platform to raise awareness about food waste, recycling, and encourage positive spill-over into other sustainable habits.  Accepted by Brittany Rosenberg, presented by Dana D’Souza, SERA Inc.

Bill Heenan Emerging Leader Award:  Jacob Appel

Jacob has been an active intern with the University of Colorado’s Zero Waste Lab and the National Recycling Coalition since the start of the 2019-2020 academic year. His work has focused on building out their database resource libraries, streamlining the use of both platforms. He has collaborated on numerous projects, assisting in the analyses of a Zero Waste Action Plan between the University of Colorado Boulder, the city of Boulder, and Boulder County. He has also been engaged with Recycle Colorado since last Fall. His passion for and knowledge of the world of SMM continues to flourish.  Presented by Jack DeBell, University of Colorado, Boulder.

Lifetime Achievement in Recycling:  Chaz Miller

 Chaz Miller is an invaluable national advocate for recycling.  Throughout his career, he implemented many recycling programs, including office paper recycling and national glass recycling.  Miller has testified in favor of recycling before congress, has spoken at conferences all over the world, and authors an award-winning column focused on recycling and waste issues.  Most recently he chaired his home county’s Aiming for Zero Waste Task Force and continues to consult on recycling and waste reduction.  This much deserved award goes to Chaz.  Presented by Lisa Skumatz, SERA Inc.

 Lifetime Achievement in Recycling:  Richard Keller

 Richard Keller has been a leader in recycling at the federal, state, and local level for more than four decades. His most notable achievement is establishing buy recycled programs. He wrote the Buy Recycled Training Manual and has conducted more than 180 training programs on buying recycled products. He has managed recycling projects including selling recyclable commodities, airport and stadium recycling, planning, source reduction, reuse, training, and market development.  Congratulations on this well-earned award!  Presented by Peter Adrian, SWALCO.

The National Recycling Coalition congratulates all of this year’s winners!

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